Saturday, October 30, 2004

Springsteen of No Help to Kerry

The Boss doing Kerry no favours
Poll shows rock star Bruce Springsteen turning voters away
Steven Edwards
CanWest News Service
Saturday, October 30, 2004

NEW YORK - Madison Avenue had unwelcome news for John Kerry's campaign
yesterday as advertising executives said Bruce Springsteen, who is
campaigning with the Democratic presidential hopeful, turns away more votes
than he attracts.

The campaign trails have begun to look like Hollywood Boulevard as both
presidential candidates inject star power into their campaigns, with
Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger appearing with George W. Bush in
Columbus, Ohio, yesterday.

While many stars have spoken out about their presidential preference, with
most opting for Mr. Kerry, a major ad industry study shows most voters
prefer candidates who keep their distance from Hollywood. The exception is
the celebrities who do not ram their political opinions down voters'
throats.

Known to fans as The Boss, Mr. Springsteen is so outspoken he drives twice
as many people to Mr. Bush as he keeps for Mr. Kerry, says the poll by Pere
Partners, a New York ad agency that specializes in the entertainment
industry.

But even though he's a movie star, Mr. Schwarzenegger is more easily
accepted when he pushes his views because he has already moved into
politics, being elected Governor of California.

"The results tell us if you go to a concert and pay $100 for a ticket, you
want to see The Boss sing because he is an American icon and tremendously
talented," said Glenn Pere, the agency's president.

"You also want to hear the lyrics. You don't want a lecture."

The survey names Michael Moore, director of Fahrenheit 9/11, as another
high-profile celebrity whose campaigning is doing more harm than good to Mr.
Kerry.

Not all the irritating celebrities are on the Democratic side. Actor
Charlton Heston, who backs gun rights, and Bill O'Reilly, a leading Fox News
host, are doing their best to annoy liberal Republican voters into the Kerry
camp.

Mr. Peres says the survey shows people want to know only the superficial
things about celebrities -- such as where they eat, what diet they are on,
what car they drive and where they vacation

"Americans don't want to know a celebrity's point of view when it comes to
politics," he said.

Nonetheless, there are a few celebrities with genuine clout, such as
talk-show host Winfrey Oprah, former Army General Norman Schwarzkopf,
comedian Jon Stewart and basketball player Charles Barley.

"Oprah is a Democrat, but comes across differently from other celebrities,"
said Mr. Pere.

"She doesn't preach, and you feel she understands both sides. Being well
informed also makes her extremely credible."

For his part, Mr. Bush has simultaneously tried to capitalize on celebrities
and criticize his opponent for being star struck.

"You might remember that my opponent said the heart and soul of America can
be found in Hollywood," he said in Michigan this week, adding, "I understand
most American families do not look to Hollywood as a source of values."

Yesterday, he took pains to refer to Mr. Schwarzenegger as "Governor" and
did not mention his movie career.

But the U.S. President was unable to distance himself completely from the
celebrity world.

The musician who co-wrote and sang the 1970s hit Still the One said Mr. Bush
should stop playing the tune at his campaign events. John Hall, who recorded
the song in 1976 after writing it with his then-wife, Joanna D. Hall, said
he has told his lawyers to write a formal letter of complaint to the Bush
campaign because he does not support his re-election bid.